Jew Of Malta Essay

1401 words - 6 pages

I was slightly dismayed to first choose a criticism dated 1957, knowing full well that it would be loaded with words I have never heard of. Again to my dismay, it was. Howard S. Babb begins his criticism by immediately listing for the reader that which all other critics fail to do, in an attempt to make himself seem all the more enlightened.Babb says on the first page, " What are we to think when the heroic Barabas is suddenly transformed into a plotter? " I must have missed the section where Barabas plays the hero. The best I can assume Mr. Babb is referring to is act one scene two, where Barabas argues with the Christian officials in order to keep his wealth. Barabas certainly did not seem heroic here, although the Christians had no right to simply strip him of his wealth, and Barabas was the only Jew to argue against it, he still did not seem heroic. In fact, his argument only seems to make him look foolish. Barabas did nothing more then play the victim and whine about what was happening, certainly not the behavior of any hero I am familiar with.Babb again mentions Barabas being "almost heroic". This mention is in regards to Barabas counting his money, and using such lines as, "Go tell "˜em the Jew of Malta sent thee, man: /Tush! Who among'st "˜em knows not Barabas?" To call this heroic is absurd. My only impression in this scene was that of Barabas being a very greedy and egotistical man. Since Mr. Babb so enjoys to refer to the dictionary to validate some of his points, I thought I would look up the word heroic in my Websters dictionary. Heroic is defined, " like or characteristic of a hero or his deeds; strong, brave, noble, etc. Of or characterized by men of godlike strength and courage. It seems that of all the words Mr. Babb looked up he did not look up heroic. Getting back to the point, again in this scene, Barabas seems anything but heroic.Beginning on page two Babb begins to write about the word policy. I understand what Babb is saying by attempting to explain to the reader what is meant by the word. I have also read this section several times. I truly do not see the point in this. Regardless of what the word means, this (at least to me) is no way to criticize or review a play. Babb begins by giving the N.E.D. definition of the word, then goes on to say what the word meant at that time (the 1590's), although I understand what he is saying, again I do not get the point. It seems like another attempt to make himself seem highly enlightened. On page five of the criticism Babb appears to be saying the opposite of what he said on page two. On page two Babb writes " we are tempted to associate the word [policy] merely with Machiavellianism", then later on page five Babb writes ""¦filling the league demands a Machiavellian policy towards the Jews. Barabas unveils the fraud in the double puns of the next line: "˜Ay, policy! That's their profession,/ And not simplicity as they...

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